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NEWS: CMA releases consumer law guidance for the early years

Since the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched their investigation into the early years sector at the end of April, PACEY has worked closely with CMA alongside sector colleagues the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) to provide evidence and information about the complex financial issues in the early years sector.

The CMA were keen to understand more of the context for childcare providers and we shared the challenge of balancing forced closure of their childcare service during the pandemic with parental desire to retain a place for their child once the nursery, pre-school or childminding setting reopened.

They have now issued an open letter to the sector as well as published guidance on Covid-19 restrictions and consumer law advice for nurseries and early years settings. We have produced some FAQs and a download that can be shared with parents.

We have produced a useful download for providers with key FAQs that can be shared with parents to support their understanding. This is available in MyPACEY for members.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at PACEY comments:
"We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the CMA to support it to issue this advice and guidance to the early years and childcare sector. The CMA has taken time to listen and understand the immense pressure providers were and still are under and recognised this in the context of consumer law.

We issued advice during lockdown (when all settings were forced to close to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers) that made clear what was reasonable and fair to expect in terms of support from parents and what was not.

We know the vast majority of our members followed this advice, did not charge parents during lockdown or have asked for small voluntary contributions. Those who used PACEY’s model contracts will have already been well within consumer law requirements.

These have been challenging times for parents and providers and, whilst clearly a tiny minority of providers didn’t follow good practice, it is important to recognise that the CMA has decided to issue supportive advice to the sector rather than take enforcement action.

We are now working to produce further advice for our members as well as parents and will be issuing this later this week."